Pe'er confident ahead of Fed Cup World Group playoff vs Czechs

The Czech's No. 1 Lucie Safarova tried to downplay her side's chances in the tie.

peer shouts 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
peer shouts 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel's Fed Cup team stepped up its preparations on Tuesday for this weekend's crucial World Group playoff tie against the Czech Republic. Shahar Pe'er trained with the team at Ramat Hasharon for the first time and was confident that the experience the players gained from the defeat against Russia earlier this year will benefit the side on Saturday and Sunday. "In the tie against Russia I was slightly nervous because it was the first time I'd played in the Fed Cup in Israel," Pe'er said. "This time, however, I'm feeling much calmer and I hope and believe I will play much better." Israel captain Oded Jacob stressed on Tuesday that the tie is wide open. "This will be a very tight affair between two level teams. There's no favorite and every one of the five matches is wide open," Jacob said. The Czech's No. 1 Lucie Safarova tried to downplay her side's chances in the tie. "A victory will be a bonus for us as the matches will be played in Israel and the host is the clear favorite," Safarova said. "We will give our all in the hope it will be enough." Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters by beating Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-3, 6-3 Tuesday. The Australian Open champion broke Ljubicic at love in the eighth game of the first set for a 5-3 lead and clinched the set with an ace. Using a two-handed backhand to counter Ljubicic's booming serve, Djokovic saved two break points in the eighth game of the second set but was rarely troubled. "I came up with a straight-set win, which is very important for me at the start of the clay-court season," Djokovic said. "I played my best tennis in the most important moments, and that's what actually matters most." The third-seeded Serb will next meet No. 14 Andy Murray, who beat Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-4, 6-1. AP contributed to this report.